The town of Shaniko, Oregon, like so many others in the mid 1900s, fell victim to the end of the railroad boom of the 1800s and by the midcentury had become a ghost town. Shaniko's once thriving economy shriveled up and most of the town's residents moved away to a more prosperous area.
But when Shaniko's population left the town, they left something remarkable behind.
When there was once a stagecoach stop named "Cross Hollows", Shaniko grew up around its main export: wool. Thanks to the Columbia Southern Railway, Shaniko, a town of 170 people, became the "Wool Capital of the World".
Because of a re-routing of the railway in 1911, Shaniko's decline began early and was nearly cleared out by 1942.
But in the 1960s, Shaniko did see a resurgence with the popularity of historic preservation. The Sage Museum opened in an abandoned building and began displaying classic cars and wagons.
The renewed interest in the 1960s saved many of Shaniko's buildings, but today, only 30 people call Shaniko home. Few of the buildings are operational and the Sage Museum, which still possesses these historic cars, has been closed since April of 2014, its cars visible only through the windows.
Shaniko is being featured in a short film, Gage, which was shot over the course of the festival, Shaniko Days, when the town draws more visitors than any other time of the year.
Gage follows the story of Phineas Gage, “an American railroad construction foreman remembered for his improbable survival of an accident in which a large iron rod was driven completely through his head, destroying much of his brain's left frontal lobe, and for that injury's reported effects on his personality and behavior over the remaining 12 years of his life — effects so profound that (for a time at least) friends saw him as `no longer Gage.’ Out of this miraculous historical experience, the foundations in the fields of psychological and neurological study emerged”.
Today the town encourages camping and walking tours of its trapped-in-time buildings.